Decatur City Commission Passes All Eight Zoning Ordinance Changes

Last night, the Decatur City Commission approved all 8 zoning ordinance changes.

Here they are, with the votes in parenthesis – C2 next to R60 transitional standards (4-1, Commissioner Boykin dissented), Standards for downtown multiple dwellings (4-1, Commissioner Boykin dissented), Parking ordinance changes (5-0), “Special pedestrian area” expansion (5-0), Accessory dwelling units (5-0), Home based businesses (5-0), Light manufacturing (5-0) and Gardens and Livestock (5-0).

This has been a long and very involved process.  Thanks to all Decatur residents who served on the Zoning Task Force for all their hardwork.

37 thoughts on “Decatur City Commission Passes All Eight Zoning Ordinance Changes”

  1. Yeah ! It looks like craft brewing is now fully legal ! Here’s a copy/paste from the presentation:


    GOAL: Establish regulations conducive to niche manufacturing: artisanal food processing, craft breweries, artist studios, clean technologies, and the production of high-value consumer goods.

    This applies specifically to Three Taverns on New Street off of College, behind The Corner Pub.

  2. Too bad. Big government on the move. No telling how many new regulations and departments will be necessary to carry out these ideas. Glad to see that at least one commish questioned these proposals. Not sure why he stood alone but good to see some disagreement. Especially sorry to see the rental unit wave crash into well established, single family neighborhoods. Sad. As much has Decatur has changed in the last twenty years, it will be nothing compared to the changes brought on by the Strategic Plan.

      1. Really? I find the “move out” comment to be thoughtless and mean. Dissension is very healthy for Decatur especially coming from a citizen as outstanding as Chris Billingsley.

      2. I agree with Neil. I don’t often agree with Mr. B, but no one can deny what he has done for this community. And even if you don’t realize what he has done for this community, offering up the suggestion of “move out” just because he is stating his opinion against the direction of the community is a crude move, in my opinion. I hope we don’t turn this place (DM, Decatur in general, the nation, the world) into an echo chamber. Don’t leave Mr. B. C’mon Steve.

      3. As an active member of the Decatur community for well over a decade, I had never heard of Chris Billingsley until he began participating in discussions here. He may well be an outstanding citizen but I would have no hint of that based on his comments on various threads on DM. His comments here usually reflect narrowness in scope and interest, open chauvinism toward certain groups in our community, and fundamental inconsistency between professed and expressed values and ethics. (Example: a favorite theme of his is erosion of individual rights, yet he will rail against an ordinance change that actually expands individual property owners’ options.) None of that is categorically troubling to me. What I find discrediting is the habit of making sweeping pronouncements–which more often than not include some sideswiping, snarky potshot at somebody–and then refusing to engage in any discussion. I, along with a number of others, have tried repeatedly to engage CB in discussion of one thing or another by challenging him to defend his view or by asking simple, non-baited questions. He refuses to engage. That’s not healthy dissension, that’s a variety of trollery. Does it have a place here? Sure, within reasonable limits. But occasionally, it’s gonna provoke somebody to say what they’re really thinking. I don’t think Steve was out of line.

        1. Thanks for saying this. I have nothing against the guy, but if one goes out of their way to pop people’s balloons or take a contrary position on most matters, sooner or later someone else (Steve in this case) may present the simplest solution.

          1. Personally, I don’t know anything at all about Chris Billingsley, other than the fact that he posts here under his real name, seems to be a republican, and does not care for ADUs. I do vaguely recall that sometimes he posts a thought and doesn’t engage in further conversation after the initial post. Based on that information alone, I feel quite confident in suggesting that we crack his head open and feast on the goo inside. Who is with me?

    1. funny reading all the reactions here. I asked my 17 yo daughter, who was fortunate enough to have Mr B at DHS before he retired, to read this thread tonight. She got a good laugh. Her comment: “They completely missed his point. They don’t get Mr B at all, he’s so great. I’ll bet he is cracking up about some of these comments.”

      Ask any kid who had him and they will tell you how much he inspired them to be active in their community and to think for themselves.

      1. You nailed it. Mr. B has lived here for the better part of 60 years and I have known him for almost 50. I can see his grin now.

        I do have a grudge against him though. 41 years ago he led an inferior St. Pius basketball team into the Palace (Decatur Rec Center) and defeated the State Champion Decatur Bulldogs who had the number 1 player in the state. A big upset. Can’t forgive him for that loss.

        1. Glad to hear we’ve given those in the know such a good laugh.

          I am glad to know you’ve had rich and rewarding relationships with Mr. B. And I can appreciate the desire to be thought provoking. That Mr. B, he’s quite a gadfly. Look, there he goes, posting another zinger. Ha ha!

          But it seems like, for the vast majority of folks who read this board, the only thoughts he is provoking are that he sounds kind of angry. And his arguments don’t make much sense.

          What’s the point of that?

          1. Exactly. I don’t think it’s so much that we don’t know the Mr. B his students know but that they don’t know the Chris Billingsly who comments here. If the angry-sounding rants are meant in any way to be tongue-in-cheek, then he’s the one who completely missed the point of letting others in on the joke. And if that’s the case, then thank God he didn’t teach English!

            Regardless of who missed who’s point, I’ll make my standard offer: Chris, if you think we done you wrong, I’m happy to meet to discuss it over a beer at Trackside.

          2. From what I know of him, he is not a bit angry. Just wants people to be informed. His style is: when everyone is quick to embrace an idea or change, he throws out another side of the issue to consider that the main group has missed, sometimes not even his opinion, just another side. I don’t think he wants to engage in debate here, just toss out the idea and make a point. And, he is definitely not a republican as some of you have assumed, but an individual rights advocate.

            I have read nothing in his comments that indicate that he dislikes renters or ADUs but is instead bringing up the point that increased regulations are not necessarily a good thing. And, renters may change the dynamic of the neighborhoods. His example a few weeks ago of a partying renter moving next door to you (or something like that) was just a worst case scenario. Some of you chose to read that as if he thought all renters were that way. As others have already pointed out on this topic, renters can be good or bad, but they are not as invested in the neighborhood as property owners. Not a condemnation of renters, just an economic fact.

            This board has become increasingly one sided in the last 2 years which is a bit sad and boring IMO. I personally like to hear both sides of an issue whether I agree or not, best to consider all of it before deciding where I stand on an issue. I don’t always agree with Mr B, but he usually makes an excellent point.

  3. “Big government on the move. No telling how many new regulations and departments will be necessary to carry out these ideas. Glad to see that at least one commish questioned these proposals. Not sure why he stood alone but good to see some disagreement.”

    These comments don’t make any sense.

  4. Re: quote above: “Sad. As much has Decatur has changed in the last twenty years, it will be nothing compared to the changes brought on by the Strategic Plan.”

    This makes no sense. As a newcomer to Atlanta15-20 years ago I was afraid to walk around downtown Decatur at night. This city has made dramatic improvements for the better.

    1. Ditto. I remember being a little nervous around Downtown Decatur at night plus being told not to buy a home south of the tracks as a single person, in fact some folks said south of Ponce. It’s a little unnerving to see ones home outshadowed by the McMansion/McCottage tear downs, rebuilds, and renovations but overall I like it that my children can walk about Decatur at will as long as they are with a friend and keep me updated about their whereabouts.

      But I am biased. I am not a worshipper of single household home ownership. Eventually ending up in condo-land sounds great to me. In fact, I would be fine with a commune for empty nesters as long as the commune had plenty of people with the home ownership skills that we don’t have. My contribution would be brownie-making, jeans patching, and Scrabble skills.

    2. Seconded, by someone who’s been here since 1999 (and VA-Highlands from ’93.)
      I was just pointing out to my 5th grader that the corner of College and McDonough used to a gas station. And was reminiscing with some friends on the nightly gun shots heard around Oakhurst prior to the UJoint opening.
      Also, Oakhurst elementary was 98% black students and WP was 98% white. We actually had a court-ordered rebalancing of the school lines!!
      Sure, with “progress” comes some nostalgia for the old times, but Decatur has only improved in the past 15-20 years from my perspective. We need to remember our roots, for sure, but “worse”?? I don’t see it.

  5. While healthy debate and dissension is a good thing, snobbery is not. The comment re: ‘the rental unit wave’ embarrasses me as a fellow Decaturite (until just a few months ago when I moved because I couldn’t find anything in Decatur that I could afford after selling my house). Apparently, if a person/couple/family cannot afford to buy in Decatur, they are not welcome according to Mr. B? I don’t know why anyone would support that kind of elitist view.

    1. To be clear, Trixie. I’m not supporting Mr. B’s views. I think they are flat wrong. Way wrong. But asking him to leave the city rubbed me the wrong way – the way wrong way.

      1. To be fair, Steve did not ask him to leave the city. He told Chris that he “COULD move out.” Frankly, that seems like a reasonable suggestion for someone who keeps spewing his whole “sky-is-falling, Decatur is going to be overrun by godless renters” screeds (this was at least the third such one). When you continue to offer up such sermons while refusing to engage in constructive dialogue, I don’t know what other reaction you can expect. But maybe I’m just touchy because I fall into at least two of the categories of people that Mr. B doesn’t think should be encouraged (allowed even?!?) to live here.

        OK, getting off my own, probably at least partly hypocritical high horse for now…

        1. Really, I thought that Steve’s response to Mr. B was more of a jibe at the Ayn Rand let-the-market-forces-handle-everything libertarian perspective on individual rights/property rights that Mr. B seems to espouse.

          In other words, you don’t like the decisions your government is making? Speak through the market. Move out.

          Maybe that’s reading too much into what Steve said. But that’s how I read it. Sort of tongue in cheek.

  6. It seems to me that the zoning changes actually give residents and businesses more freedom in what they can do with their property, with consideration being given to what kind of impact these changes have on their neighbors. So, I don’t understand the more regulations comment.

  7. I have decided that there’s two Mr. B’s: the one that spent hundreds and thousands of hours on students in addition to his work hours (and still does BTW), sponsored Close-Up, guaranteed that all students interested could attend the trip to D.C. no matter their family’s resources, organized Close Up fundraisers, personally solicited funds for worthy students who were struggling with the cost of the trip, chaperoned the D.C. trip so well that parents got daily updates and photos, lead tons of kids in tons of community service, made Government class interesting for kids, listened and advised students, and never seemed to mind if students and parents were 180 degrees opposite of him in political views; and the one who posts here. It’s a mystery and matter of faith, kind of like the Trinity (sorry to those who think that’s sacrilege but that’s how I feel).

    1. Agree. I usually bite my tongue when Mr. B posts something (that I feel is) outlandish out of deference to the terrific contributions he has made to DHS and its students.

      I may not agree with him politically. But he has personally cleaned my gutters on several occasions to raise money for DHS.

      Many folks talk a good game about community service. Mr. B is the real McCoy. So, I turn the other cheek.

      But I agree. Many of his comments on this board leave me agog.

  8. For a city that carries so much pride in its diversity there is a clear lack of acceptance in diversity of thought here. Hopefully that is just an indictment of the peanut gallery and not the city as a whole. I don’t think Mr. B’s comments are elitist. They are alarmist at best. The point to be made is that rental housing is decidedly less stable and is generally seen as a negative. Renters are less invested in the community and that is not a good thing. Decatur has a good thing because it is small and being more inclusive is not all upside. It isn’t all downside either. These are simple truths. I’ve girded myself for your likely well written and condescending response STG, have at it.

    1. My objection is not to diversity of thought or dissenting opinion. There are plenty of posters here whose opinions I despair of or even abhor, but whom I nevertheless respect very much for their willingness to engage in civil exchange. What I don’t respect is the drive-by pattern, i.e., a deliberately provocative tone (even bellicose, sometimes) combined with an utter refusal to engage in follow-up discussion, no matter how respectful the approach.

  9. I have no problem with dissent. That’s what makes a democracy work. [edited: no personal attacks]

    “Big government on the move.” – Actually, no. The zoning changes generally across the board give people more rights with regard to what they can or can’t do with their property than the previous code. From everything I have heard Mr. B wants to restrict rights with regard to property.

    ” the rental unit wave” – Even if we do not debate the preposterous idea that “renters” are somehow bad people and unproductive citizens, what “rental unit wave” is he talking about? Allowing homeowners who live on the premises the right to rent out their garage apartments constitutes a a “rental unit wave?” I predict rental unit growth to be minuscule as the result of this.

    “Glad to see that at least one commish questioned these proposals.” Not only did that one commissioner vote in support of assessor y dwelling unit proposal that Mr. B has so derided, but the 2 proposals he voted against were on behest of a handful of neighbors on Ponce Place who want to restrict development of the 315 West Ponce property. Again, Mr. B, this is an anti-property rights position. In other words, big government.

    [edited: no personal attacks]

    And, no, I don’t expect Mr. B to chime in and expound on any of his views either. Just not his style.

    1. “I have no problem with dissent. That’s what makes a democracy work. What I have a problem with is apparent buffoonery”

      Look in the mirror. While I don’t agree with Mr. B’s original post, I think his comments aren’t the only ones spoken by a buffoon:

      1) Re: big government – he clearly stated that he felt these regulations would lead to additional regulations and departments – i.e. more/bigger government. I don’t agree with his conclusions, but if your reading comprehension skills were up to par, you would understand his point about big govt. He thinks the implementation of these regulations will lead to bigger government.

      2) re: rental unit wave – we all have different opinions/concerns/fears about the effects of certain regulations. This is his. Why does this make him a buffoon? And BTW, I agree with you. But, noone knows for certain the results of these regulations. The increase in number of renters may be more than miniscule (although I personally think that is highly unlikely).

      IMO, you have no problem with dissent so long as the dissenter shares your opinions.

      And DM, I have been edited/banned for much less than calling a specific, non-anonymous individual a buffoon. A little consistentcy please…

      1. I did not call anyone a buffoon. And I don’t even see how that would be a personal attack.

        But you can edit out that one sentence if you wish.

        I stand by my thoughts as a whole.

    2. Sort of surprised this one didn’t get edited for personal attacks/name calling …

      That’s pretty harsh, Marty.

    3. “Even if we do not debate the preposterous idea that “renters” are somehow bad people and unproductive citizens”

      Who has said that? The only concerns I have seen expressed are about a large increase in the proportion of renters in the area, which can have a long term negative effect when compared to increasing rates of home ownership. Noone has directed any comments at the renters themselves. Many of the renters in Decatur are making sacrifices to put their children in good schools, and that sure as hell doesn’t meet the definition of “bad people”.

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